To graduate with "honors" in political science or international relations, a student must complete a thesis. A student with a minimum grade point average of 3.67 in her major and approval of the department may elect to write an honors thesis. The thesis in political science or international relations is an essay of 50-70 pages written over the course of two semesters. The first semester, the student who has obtained departmental approval to write a thesis will register for either POLS 350 or INRL 350 (Independent Study); the second semester, the student will register for either POLS 355 or INRL 355 (Thesis). An eligible student wishing to write a thesis must submit a proposal to the Political Science faculty or to the International Relations Steering Committee in the spring of her junior year. One member of the department or Steering Committee must agree to act as supervisor for the thesis.
There are several deadlines that must be met in order to ensure successful completion of a senior thesis:
- END OF SPRING SEMESTER, JUNIOR YEAR: The student should submit a 3-5 page proposal including a description of the topic, a statement of the hypothesis, and a preliminary bibliography.
- END OF SEPTEMBER, SENIOR YEAR: The student should have an outline of the thesis and a bibliography.
- END OF FALL EXAM PERIOD, SENIOR YEAR: The student should hand in draft of the first chapter, or some comparable piece of work.
- LAST WEEK OF MARCH, SENIOR YEAR: The entire first draft is due.
- LAST DAY OF SPRING TERM, SENIOR: Three copies of the finished thesis are due in the departmental office.
- SPRING EXAMINATION PERIOD, SENIOR YEAR: an oral examination will be scheduled during the spring exam period. Normally three members of the department will examine the student on the thesis.
The student's grade will be based on the thesis and the oral defense. Merely completing an acceptable thesis does not automatically ensure an honors grade. The work must be judged worthy of honors by the department acting as a group. Students who do not meet the fall schedule or whose progress is judged unsatisfactory in the first term, will not be allowed to register for POLS/INRL 355 in the spring.
For details on completing a senior honor's thesis, students should consult the department's guidelines, "How to Write a Senior Thesis."